Movie: Gayby Baby

Movie: Gayby Baby

First-time feature director Maya Newell has a voice of maturity beyond her years. This film is an achievement in telling the stories of four Australian children, and their parents, who are all same-sex couples. The kids are great kids: loving and empathetic, and – as one of them says jokingly, occasionally pure evil. 

Watching it as a parent I saw the unflinching insights into family life. Disciplining kids, encouraging siblings to play together, the role of faith in family life, all are covered with a degree of sensitivity. By not focusing on the aspect of rejection and bullying, the film makes its anti-bullying message stronger. There are sources of pain in people’s lives in the film, many of them just hinted at. These are people who live in the real world, with its brokenness, making their way through. 
There are definitely agendas at play here, and the film is trying to push particular messages: the need to change laws around same-sex marriage and adoption as well as its more winsome call for us to empathise with the kids, and make their lives less fraught with bullying. 

By putting a human face on the issue through its stories, it seems likely that this movie will have an effect in changing the minds of the “undecideds”. There is some faith-related content in the film – not as demonised as it might be, though perhaps the presentation of Christians in the film is such that you can read into them your own experience and opinions. 

If you find the on-screen portrayal of same-sex relationships offensive, then you will find this film offensive, but the director has taken care to present even the shows of affection to such displays that parents might make in front of their kids (occasional brief kissing and laying down on a couch to talk while leaning in each other). Also, if you were thinking about showing it to very young kids, there are some lessons about Santa and the Tooth Fairy you may want to be aware of. 

This is the work of a talented film-maker, capturing a slice of Australian life that is not often represented on screens. I suspect it’s been seen a lot more due to the surrounding controversy than it would otherwise have been, and from the sound of the Q&A, it will continue to be used in efforts both to reduce bullying, and to reshape family law in Australia. 

rather die than change

Around ten years ago I read an article on heart attack survivors that proved people would rather die than change – given simple lifestyle changes to make, that would literally save them from having another, this time fatal, attack, the majority of people were unwilling or unable to make the change.

Changing (especially after a certain age) is tough.

I was talking to a friend about our respective social media intake. Lately I’ve found myself spending more time sourcing articles to read from Facebook, going beyond what I need to look through for work, flicking through in search of the latest fix of information. It quickly becomes a habit, and a tough one to break. Such is the genius of Facebook at some level: giving a gamified cookie to the people who continue to scroll through, like and comment on things, helping Facebook sell more ads.

While there is the occasional exception, and something of more significance will filter through, it can be tough to change gears from soaking up the shallows of the average social media post, to reading something longer and more in-depth.

My friend talked about the need to deliberately curate what goes into your mind. Instead of listening to the (unhelpful, or at best unexamined) habits that you’ve picked up, and doing what they say when choosing what goes into your mind, spend some time thinking carefully about what you want to be thinking about.

On the rare occasion when you bump into a friend who you haven’t seen in a while, will you have anything to say to them? Or will their Facebook feed have taken the place of small-talk, leaving you less connected than you might have been.

There are a number of risks with a sustained social media diet. Taking time to think about what it is you want to be thinking about, rather than always chasing bite-sized bits of new information. It will see you in a better frame of mind, and will pay dividends in years’ time that an unexamined consumption of everything you see.